There’s no doubt about it: Tom Meeks has the toughest job in golf. As the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition, Meeks job is to supervise the setup for the US Open.
Setting up a course for a tournament is a tricky thing. I’ve done it on a lesser scale for some high school events, and found it was easy to go from one extreme to another. Put the pins in one spot, and the hole plays too easy. Move it two feet over, and it’s too hard. The same applies to the teeing grounds. Meeks also has to worry about fareway widths, bunker consistency, height of the fairways and rough, and more.
Meeks is in the unfortunate position, I think of having to enforce the US Open’s reputation as the toughest test in golf. The USGA revels in the idea that the the “US Open doesn’t seek to embarass great players; it wants to identify them.” And becuase of this, Meeks probably has to err on the side of tough.
That has led to some unfortunate decisions, like the 18th at Olympic, and last summer’s impossible greens at Shinnecock.
Those are the things that will stick in many pepole’s minds when they think about Tom Meeks. But he’s been at this for ten years. That means that he as set up 720 holes for USGA competition. (10 years, four rounds, 18 holes a round). And if in those, you can only remember a handful of holes, I think he’s done pretty well.
This year is Meeks last. Slam Sports has a nice feature on the guy.
For a nice book with lots of insight as to what goes on inside setting up a US Open, I recommend that you read John Feinstein’s Open: Inside the Ropes at Bethpage Black